What is biodynamic craniosacral therapy and how can it help?
There has been an explosion in our understanding of the link between chronic stress, trauma and longterm illness over recent years, and conventional medicine has not yet evolved to incorporate this new knowledge into its treatment paradigm.
Pioneers such as Peter Levine, Gabor Maté and Bessel Van Der Kolk have helped to bring some of this knowledge to the general public and are leading the way to innovative treatment approaches to mitigate the damaging effects of chronic stress on our health.
Through the work of these and other pioneers, and reinforced by a growing number of scientific studies, it is clear that stress and trauma have a direct and lasting impact on our physical health. Adverse experiences, especially those encountered in childhood, are literally held in the body.
The HeartMath Institute has shown that through a heart-centred and caring therapeutic interaction one person can help another to settle into a state of ‘coherence’, an ideal physiologic state where the autonomic nervous system adjusts from a fight-or-flight stress response to a restful state in which the body can repair injured tissue and heal. In this state, blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate go down, inflammatory chemicals decline, and mental functioning improves.
When an environment and feeling of safety has been created between a doctor or therapist and their patient, the body can be enabled to release the long held trauma and a healing process can begin to unfold.
Craniosacral therapy works on these principles and has been shown in randomised, controlled trials to be effective in improving a number of health conditions including migraine headaches, fibromyalgia and chronic pain. It has also been shown to improve heart rate variability (a reliable measure of long term health resilience) and regulate the autonomic nervous system (which tends to be in a state of ‘high alert’ when someone is chronically stressed).
Even before I was aware of the vast amount of scientific evidence, I could see that chronic stress and historic trauma were often a factor for many of my patients with chronic conditions. Many of my patients intuitively know stress is playing a role in their illness. It was gratifying to see this relationship borne out in the medical literature, and to find a powerful yet gentle therapy to help patients improve.
I am pleased to be able to offer my patients this therapy as an adjunct to the lifestyle recommendations of functional medicine. In my experience this unique combination of support can result in a significant overall improvement in my patients’ wellbeing.
If you are interested to learn more about craniosacral therapy, please visit the Craniosacral Therapy Association website.
If you are curious to read more about the link between trauma, chronic stress and illness, here is a suggested reading list to explore:
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
In an Unspoken Voice by Peter Levine
When the Body Says No by Dr Gabor Maté
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky
It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn